Gardening magazine. Jim checks on the progress of his favourite cutting flowers, while Brian experiments with a range of slow-growing, small-leaved evergreens.
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I tell you what, do you think I'm tempting Providence by saying
-this is a cracking day for gardening?
-You might be,
cos it's been so changeable, Jim.
Hello and welcome to Beechgrove.
I tell you, we've had some awful weather over the last month,
but today, light breeze, sun's not too strong...
It's quite nice, and the soil's looking good as well, isn't it?
Indeed. So we are looking at the vegetables. Progress has been mixed,
-again, related to the weather.
-But broad beans...
What about the broad beans?
-I think broad beans are a great crop to grow.
And we've got three varieties.
They're all dwarf varieties, starting off with kind of the
old-fashioned one, the Sutton.
-Slightly newer is Robin Hood.
And then Oscar is a completely new one in the catalogues,
-and very different.
-Yeah, very white flowers for a start.
-Totally white instead of the black and white.
Slightly taller growing and so what I'm doing at the moment is
nipping out the tops, cos you can use those in salads.
Mr Anderson will be after them.
And of course it stops against the black aphid, doesn't it, as well?
Yes, it does. But this is also a destructive harvest crop, isn't it?
It is. It's meant to be.
In fact, when they mature, all the beans should mature together.
-And we've got a succession cos...
-Yes, these were planted plants.
We were planting them together, weren't we? And sowing those direct.
-There's about six weeks of a difference.
Will there be six weeks of a difference in cropping?
Well, one would hope so.
-It would give us a little bit of a succession, wouldn't it?
Behind me, however,
we've got one of the crops that has suffered from the weather.
-They are not looking so great, are they, Jim?
-The runner beans.
-A little bit yellow.
-But, you know, they are starting to recover.
-Yes, they are.
-And you've got the hoe going, and that's a great hoe, that one.
-This is the swoe.
Back, forward, it doesn't matter. Very lightweight.
And of course, what I'm really doing is maybe catching seedling
weeds, which will be burned up by the sun, but I am also mulching,
-because that acts as a mulch layer, doesn't it?
I hate to see flattened-down ground.
-Back to crops. Spinach.
-Lots of lovely spinach.
I particularly like this one
-with the red vein.
-Oh, really? SHE LAUGHS
I probably would avoid that one.
Well, I'm going to pick some of it because, again,
I'm sure George would be happy to crop some of this,
cos it's a bit like sort of a cut, come again.
We grew it commercially many decades ago, and that was it,
leaving about an inch of the stock, shearing it off,
a little bit of nitrogen to encourage it to come again,
but that lot there are starting to sprout, I think.
Look. They are bolting. That's not good news.
And I think sometimes you... This one is Koto.
-Look in the catalogues and see the ones that are meant to be bolt-resistant.
But I'm sure we could still put that in the salad.
Leeks and onions coming away not too badly.
Courgettes, again, suffered from the weather.
But on the whole, I mean, we're not too badly off.
-Not too bad at all.
-Do you agree? Yeah.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the programme...
Brian is back and planting a range
of alternatives to box hedging
to avoid the dreaded box blight.
And with Mexican orange blossom
and scented azaleas,
I'm going to be following my nose this week.
You know, I can't believe it was just two weeks ago that Jim was
looking at his tomato plants in the greenhouse,
and here we are now in the polytunnel.
And in that two weeks, they have certainly grown, looking very
healthy, lots of trusses forming, and they're starting to set.
These two plants, different varieties,
but they're both cherry tomatoes, and here are one or two of
the fruits, so hopefully we are going to have a good crop.
But we do have a little bit of a problem,
and you need to take a close look at this, and this is how you can
miss things, but on the underside of the leaves here, I can see...
In fact, one or two there just dropped off,
but we've got one or two aphids.
And what I suggest is that we will need to spray,
make sure you use a suitable spray for edible crops, and also I
would do it in the evening when the pollinating insects are not around.
But you do have to watch it because they will multiply,
and because they are contact insecticides,
you've got to spray the top and the underneath to be effective.
Now, also, these bags were quite big,
and I was suggesting that we would do
a little bit of intercropping.
Well, the plants have grown so much,
we have already harvested some rocket, and I've also
got some lettuce here, which will be great to add to our salads.
This variety is Mascara.
And the colour, though,
is completely different to the ones
that I've got on the decking.
On the decking, they're much more markedly sort of red.
And I think the reason is the fact that we've got the plants
shading them and just generally the lack of light in here.
But that doesn't mean to say we can't use it and can't enjoy it.
As for the cucumber, this one is
Delistar, a thin-skinned variety.
And let's have a look.
Yes, we've already got some of the fruits forming.
That's started to set on the main stem.
And then what we need to do is a little bit of training,
so we look for the side shoots.
So here is a side shoot here.
And we've got one leaf, then a second leaf.
It's a little bit like training a vine.
And then I just need to pinch out the top.
Otherwise, it goes totally out of control.
And speaking a little bit about out of control, I mean,
we have put of the netting here for our squashes.
They're doing quite well.
And already, this variety,
it's called Sunshine,
and, look, there's some lovely little golden balls there.
I think they will be delicious later on.
From squashes next-door to chrysanthemums here,
in our big glasshouse.
And we're trying out something different.
Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?
We brought in some rooted cuttings,
so they're really quite small plants yet.
Many of you will have chrysanthemums that are this high already
and starting to flower.
But do you know, my first job in a nursery,
we started cutting chrysanthemums end of July,
and we were cutting chrysanthemums at the beginning of January,
continuously, all the way, using different types,
different styles of growing.
Here we've got them indoors,
so that will bring them on at a nice pace.
And we look forward to some nice cut flowers.
But amongst the lot that we bought last year were
some Koreans. And these are they.
And I remember way back we grew them as pot plants, not cut flowers.
So I'm trying to do that this time.
It's a little bit of an experiment.
So, you can see, they've actually got flowers on them already,
so they initiate flowers very easily.
What I'm doing is cutting them back like so because I want lots
more stems, and then at the top of each stem, there will be more buds.
So we are putting them up into a bit of decent compost.
And they will be cut back.
They'll be stood in here, beside the rest,
and hopefully this will work.
Time alone will tell.
Today, I'm in the herb garden here at the Beechgrove.
And as you can see, on both sides,
it's got neatly clipped box hedging.
Now, last week,
I went to meet head gardener Susan Burgess to see how she deals
with the dreaded box blight on six miles of box hedging
at Pitmedden gardens in Aberdeenshire.
Box blight is a massive problem all over the country, as it devastates
box that will, in some cases, have been growing for centuries.
Susan at Pitmedden has started a regime of spraying with
a compound that provides a barrier to the blight but is also
a plant stimulant.
In other situations, gardeners have been forced to take extreme
measures by removing infected box completely.
Isn't this laburnum a great backdrop to the Geometric Garden
at this time of year? Which again, is full of box,
and this time is topiary.
It is such a versatile plant, box. I love having it in the garden.
But it is so much effort to keep on top of the spraying,
to keep it nice and healthy in our gardens, which is why,
when I look at this clipped yew hedge that we have surrounding
the Geometric Garden, it's got me thinking there's
other alternatives out there for box hedging.
So, here I am in the area that we are trying out some trees for
And this is the perfect spot to try our hedges.
So we've got five different alternatives.
We are planting them in a zig-zaggy fashion and we are going to
compare them all together.
Well, that's the rain on - perfect timing,
just in time to water in our first row of plants which is box.
And this is the plant that we are wanting to compare all the others
against, and the characteristics of box.
They're beautiful plants. They're dwarf. They're compact.
They're evergreen. Just perfect for that hedging.
And these ones are nice and healthy, too.
When you're at the garden centre, make sure there's
no little orange spots, cos that's the first sign of the box blight.
So, for all the hedges, were going for a 2m row.
We have got our builder's line in.
This is to make sure we've got it nice and straight.
And when we are planting our plants,
we're making sure the stem's right up against the line.
These are nice small plants, so all we've done is just dug an
individual little hole and then popped it in.
Our next one is the Japanese Holly.
Or the box-leafed holly.
And this is the plant that's really interested me
because, as you can see, the leaves
are virtually identical to the box.
So this hedge is hopefully going to look identical to that hedge.
Now, these plants are slightly larger.
So for this case, what we've done is we've dug a trench, and
then we are going to get a 30cm space in between them.
These are quite bushy.
The effect that we want with all the hedges is 50cm
across by 50cm up,
so we can start clipping these ones already, like I've done here.
So some of these longer growths,
you can just nip off round the sides, get your shape,
and then all this new growth in here is all going to come bushy out,
and I reckon this time next year,
you are actually going to really see the shape of this hedge already.
Over here, we have our poor man's box, and that's a good description.
Because what we have here for this Japanese Holly is
about £70 for the 2m.
Now, you are virtually half price for all the other hedges in the row.
These ones are all coming in around about the £45 mark.
And this one is a nice yellow-leaved
Baggesen's Gold, Lonicera.
I do like these ones.
But the downside about these,
and this is something that is going to be good for us to compare as
well, is the amount of clippings they are going to take.
And I know this one is going to take about two or three every year.
Now, our next little plant is...
Bit of a mouthful, but I actually quite like it.
It is a nice little plant. I like the purple-y foliage.
And if you're looking for something a little bit different in
your garden, so you can play around with colours and design,
well, I think this is a good one because, as you can see,
when it is up against Lonicera, the colours are going to contrast well.
Another good thing about this plant is, as with all berberises,
they are prickly, they are spiny.
So it is a good little security plant,
especially if you are trying to block off a wee path.
Over here, we have...
And this one here is one of many, many cultivars,
you can go to the garden centre and take your pick.
The other hedges, or all the hedges,
we are trying to create 50cm by 50 cm.
But if you are needing something wider,
then what you are going to want to do is have a double row.
So what we have done here is our rows are 45cm apart and we
are going to stagger them, so as you can see, the growth from this
plant is going to go into this gap,
and it goes so on and so on,
and what that's going to do is it's going to grow in amongst each
other and create that lovely, bushy, compact hedge.
And our final is...
And this is the one that I'm actually quite excited about and
really looking forward to see it happening.
This is an early spring flowering shrub - white flowers,
sweet fragrance that smells absolutely lovely,
so I'm interested to see how this is going to look as a hedge.
So for the final job, as with all our hedges,
we did mix in some bone meal when we were doing the planting
process because we really do want to encourage some good root growth,
and then after that,
give them a good watering and a good layer of mulch over the top,
because we really don't want these plants drying out over the summer.
So there we have it.
These are five alternatives to the box hedging,
and what we'll do over the next few seasons,
we'll keep coming back and seeing how they are getting on.
Well, it will be interesting to see how these various hedges develop.
Thankfully, I've only got one at home, and it's not very big,
so it is easily looked after.
But to my little greenhouse at home,
this is meant to sort of emulate what I am doing.
It is a production unit.
This is where I produce the plants that then go into my little
conservatory, and I can swap them around, when they are in flower,
out of flower, I've got something to replace them.
And here are an example of the kind of things that I rely on
for most of the time. Pelargoniums.
Whether they be pelargoniums or zonal pelargoniums,
it doesn't matter. Look at this,
absolutely... Lady Plymouth.
Stunning house plant.
Absolutely performs all of the time.
Gorgeous foliage and a lovely lavender pink flowering.
And that will flower on and on and on.
But some of them get to a stage where they need a rest.
I mean, this chappy here.
Well, actually, this is Pink Capricorn.
You can see, plenty of flowers, looks good,
and there are some new buds at the base, which will keep it
flowering, because you have to disbud it from time to time.
That's worthy of still being in the conservatory.
But then you go to the opposite end. This one.
This will be lucky to see the end of the week, so to speak.
It is needing potted up.
I might, because I like the colour of the flower,
I might bring that one back into my little greenhouse,
cut it back, give it a bit of TLC and try and revive it.
Even if I can only just get some cuttings from it to start all
over again, that is part of the process.
And of course, in doing so,
you are always looking for something different. How about this one?
This is a Vancouver Centennial.
Look at that for a house plant or a pot plant. Gorgeous foliage.
These lovely orange flowers. Stunning.
And they attract attention.
But they have their time when they need a rest,
that's when they come back into the wee greenhouse.
And this is probably the daddy of them all,
Ardens, Pelargonium Ardens.
Look at that. It's not a big showy thing, is it?
But how is that for delicacy and quality?
Love it. Stunning thing, it is.
It really is beautiful.
And sometimes by accident you can find a winner. Look at this.
Now, this plant here was a bedding plant out there last summer.
Colour... Spotted it straightaway.
It's so vibrant, isn't it?
But look at the number of flowers to one plant, which is worthy,
to my mind, of being treated as a pot plant,
not just a bedding plant,
and actually to propagate it by cuttings to get a few more.
Again, bedding plant maybe?
This is Mrs Pollock.
Gorgeous foliage colour.
Nice little flower.
But it is grown for its foliage colour.
Maybe used as a bedding plant.
But it's worthy of my conservatory, and so I will grow it in here,
bring it on, get it when it's ready, pop it into the conservatory.
It is a continuous process,
and there are sets of plants that are flowering,
then they need a rest, and then something else takes its place.
Fuchsias, for example, are very good at this time.
And that's how it goes on.
Jim and myself are going to dip into the post bag and hopefully
answer some of your queries, and starting off with,
we've had a couple of queries about a very pernicious weed.
It's this thing here, horsetail.
Somebody with an allotment, Sandra Richardson, who actually
wanted it identified but also, "What do you do with it?"
Now, horsetail, as you can see,
we've got it here growing in the garden.
It goes down metres. It really is a big problem.
But there are a few ways that you can try and deal with it and
keep it under control.
One of the best ways, I would say, is just keep hoeing it,
keep pulling it out, keep on top of it.
And that is something you can definitely do on the allotment.
Another way, if it is a spare bit of land,
you could think about actually excluding the light,
whether you want to use black polythene or some old carpet,
but you need to leave it there for quite a long time.
And the other way is maybe going down the route of
a systemic weedkiller.
But there, you have got to be a little bit careful because
this has like a sort of plastic coating on it.
It has silica in it, so you've got to bruise it first to be
effective. And I would suggest that perhaps one of the best
times to put on that weedkiller is September,
just as the plant is starting to die back, and it effectively
then takes that weedkiller down into the root system.
And another problem that is quite common.
This one is from South Lanark.
And if you take a close look at this, now, that is meant to be
a lawn, but it is covered in this sort of leafy structure.
This is called dog lichen.
A lot of people think it is a fungus. Well, you're half correct
because it is actually a combination of a fungus and an algae.
It's telling you, really, that the ground is totally impoverished.
And the letter we had in from South Lanarkshire said that it was
right near a forest.
Well, that means there is lots of competition for moisture,
To combat it, you can try a moss killer to kill it out,
or rake it out and then use a moss killer,
then you've got to feed, you've got to have
a great programme to encourage the lawn to grow.
Yes, it is getting hotter, I have to say.
Next question on the list is about roses,
and I thought we'd pick a rose just to start off with.
There is this gorgeous species of rose -
Rosa spinosissima 'William III'.
An absolute stoater. Absolutely beautiful.
Anyway, Margaret McGregor in Kirkcaldy has to shift a rose -
Dorothy, beautiful pink flowers, climber, 65 years old.
Alterations to the house, it's against a wall, can she shift it?
At your peril, I would say.
65 years, the roots are going to be miles out, the feeding roots,
and you are going to have to be very savage in cutting it back to
try and move it to another spot.
If there was time to delay this process so that you could get some
cuttings later on, I would prefer to propagate it, two or three, perhaps.
Then, once the cuttings were rooted, do what you like with it
because the old one is hardly likely to be able to take on that shift.
I'll get ten letters next week saying,
"Oh, I did that last year!"
Yes, OK. My advice is try and find another way,
or go buy another Dorothy!
That's the answer.
Now, the next question. Rather simple.
And that is, we used a phrase,
a horticultural phrase, in one of the programmes recently.
We said we are going to heel something in, what does that mean?
Well, it simply means planting it temporarily.
So, with a spade, we dig our hole, make it look like a ditch,
and the subject in question were bulbs that had to be moved,
daffodil bulbs had to be moved.
As I say, whack them in the soil, no particular order,
pull the soil over the top, keep them like so,
and...heel them in.
Hm, the perfume on this azalea is to die for.
Now, I'm on the outskirts of Dunblane,
and this garden is just chock-a-block full of plants.
This is only the front garden, and I can't wait to go round the back.
This colourful garden packed full of plants and perfumes
belongs to self-taught artist Laura Gill and her family.
Laura's husband, David, is a retired professional planner, and you
can see evidence of their combined talents everywhere you look.
Well, this path is what our nieces and nephews refer to
as the yellow brick road, or sometimes the train tracks.
I think that's a brilliant idea.
Depending on what they're playing at.
But the design, the plants, and the scent in the garden,
they are all fantastic features.
Well, scent has always been so important to us
-in the garden.
-It's very therapeutic, isn't it?
-It is very relaxing, especially...
-And do you find the perfume
-is better, yeah, in the evening time?
-In the evening, yeah.
So the Mexican orange blossom.
But it is also your combination of plants. So, is that you or David?
No, that's David. He is the garden planner.
He plans the combination so that when something is going,
something else is coming in.
So the lovely granny's bonnets, they're gorgeous.
-Well, or fairies' hats.
-For the children.
And then over there, I mean, you've got the lovely white azalea with
-the sort of maroon of the heuchera.
-Well, again, David.
I wouldn't have thought... I mean, I love the azalea. It wouldn't have
occurred to me to plant that beside it to make that stand out even more.
-Doesn't it just?
-So, shall we carry on, on the yellow brick road?
-Laura, you've actually quite a few trees in the garden.
And I'm admiring the acers.
I mean, not a mark on them, a nice sheltered position.
Presumably, lots of autumn colour, too.
That's why we love them so much because there is always colour,
and the leaves are just amazing as they change colour.
So even when there is not much else happening in the garden, we've still got that.
-Then, when they drop the leaves, you've got the beautiful shape of them, haven't you?
-Oh, they are.
They are still very sort of structural,
and they're just gorgeous.
But what we love is that the bulbs and things that are
planted under there when they are not in leaf,
they go over and then the acer just falls down like
a curtain and covers everything up.
-Just like an umbrella, isn't it?
And so you are you utilising that plant for 12 months of the year.
-OK, tell me a little bit about this one.
Oh, it's a self-seeder.
I don't know what to do with this, maybe you can help me.
Well, it is lovely at the moment, a Sitka spruce,
but that could get giant.
These are one of the forest trees.
So I think you have got a choice.
Either you really need to take it out now,
or I actually have one in my garden and I treat it a bit like a bonsai.
-So maybe nipping out the top,
and then if you keep pruning these by half, it contains it.
-Right, OK. So that's an idea.
-That's a possibility.
But that one is perfect, the yew there. Just like a pencil.
It is very sculptural.
So, I mean, as an artist, presumably, shape, form,
-colour, it's all important.
And even if I'm not painting the garden, it is very inspiring.
-I love this.
This time not flowers, but foliage, but, you know,
if you brush past it, variegated marjoram. It's gorgeous.
-It smells lovely.
-And do you use that for cooking?
Yeah, a lot. We use it a lot.
This is an interesting part of the garden.
When we did some renovations to the house about eight years ago,
there was nothing here,
it was just mud, and all the excess soil was just piled here,
and David decided it was a good idea, and I thought it was just like
a big ugly whale, and I didn't like it one bit, but it is OK now.
Well, the clever thing is,
I think it is great because you've created this mound.
And rather than having like a flat border,
where you've got to have plants going up in height...
-Because of this, you can have geraniums at the back of
the border that are shorter but they still show through.
-I think it's great.
And then look at your beautiful acer again, the golden leaf form.
-Pristine. And I love the foxgloves too.
-Oh, I love them too.
And I know that maybe some people might view them as weeds,
but I just love how the bees go inside the bells and then they do
a sort of little shimmy and they come back out.
-I just love to watch them.
-I love watching them.
Do you want to see the most peaceful part of the garden?
-Oh, I'd love to.
-It's this way.
Laura, I can see why you'd love to relax in this part of the garden.
-Water is lovely, isn't it?
-Oh, it is just so relaxing.
And after a hard day, there is nowhere better.
And quite a few fish in the pond!
Oh, well, yes, there are.
And some are 18 years old.
And the reason we have a pond and the reason we moved here is
because our daughter accidentally won a goldfish at the fair.
-And so it came to this in the end.
-And it came to this.
The water is crystal clear - what is your secret?
There isn't one, really.
We are very fortunate, Scottish water quality is excellent.
It's really good.
The only thing we really do is put in the barley bags
-because they keep down that nasty green slimy...
-Oh, the blanket weed.
Blanket weed, yeah.
And plenty of oxygenators, but again, presumably,
you have to haul that out a bit
-cos it can be rather invasive.
-Yes, we pull it out if it gets too big.
The iris, I think I've picked the best day to come and see those
-I think you have. I think they're performing for you.
Just gorgeous. And the wisteria.
Now, how long have you had that planted and how long did you
have to wait for it to flower?
Probably around 15 or 16 years old,
but we did have to wait four or five years before it flowered.
Patience is a virtue, isn't it? Sometimes.
-And then you can sit and enjoy this.
-You can do a bit of artwork.
We've seen some dragonflies. I mean, it's beautiful.
-And even the cat is enjoying it.
-I think she is.
So thank you very much. I really think this is a beautiful garden.
Thank you very much for coming.
I've heard the wisdom that everything in paradise is not always
perfect, well, the same applies to Beechgrove Garden,
which is six miles out of Aberdeen, it's in the centre of the
countryside, and with two major pests - rabbits and pigeons!
Look what they have done to my little turnips.
I was picking them last week. Fortunately,
they are just ready to be picked.
We won't lose much of the crop.
Most of our stuff actually has to be netted just to keep the
vermin out, and it's a problem.
Just like you have.
Well, following on from David and Laura's garden
with their scented trail,
here is another beauty, Rosa rugosa.
And we've got some mixed colours.
It's a plant that you can grow as a hedge.
It does really well in an exposed location.
And of course, after those flowers, you get those beautiful hips.
Well, a sample of the early produce from the vegetable garden.
-It's looking good, isn't it?
-Yes, it is. It looks good.
Not so sure about the salad. Too much lettuce, maybe.
Do you think George will come back?
Bring back Anderson, I think. Yes.
Anyway... But I think there's
a lovely lot of colour in the bog garden.
-It has settled down rather well.
And I would pick out this primula here.
The variety is called Inverewe. It's a slightly different colour.
We've looked at the pinks, you know.
I actually think the Primula genus is well represented by
a good range of colour right round this garden.
They are, they're fantastic, Jim, aren't they?
But if you'd like any more information
about this week's programme,
it's all in the fact sheet,
and the easiest way to access that is online.
-Yeah, the two of us are looking at
a very sad conifer hedge, and we want to try and solve the problem.
-Because this is the third time it's happened.
And I shall be starting the pruning of the fruit.
-Until next time.
In the Beechgrove Garden, Jim takes a look at progress of his favourite cutting flowers and adds an easy staking system to the beds to keep flower heads up.
Last week, Brian visited Pitmedden Gardens to see how they deal with the threat of box blight on their six miles of hedging. This week he is experimenting with a range of slow-growing, small-leaved evergreens as potential alternatives to using box.
Carole visits David and Laura Gill in Dunblane to see the garden that David has created from scratch over the last eight years. The garden's centrepiece is a beautiful pond that provides a floral oasis of calm in a busy life.